Thursday, 29 April 2010

Escape Velocity Magazine is grounded


Escape Velocity Magazine is grounded

By Geoff Nelder

A few years ago, a gap existed on the bookshelves of readers of science fiction, who also enjoyed reading snippets and arguments of fact. Robert Blevins was playing with the idea of a publishing venture featuring stories of adventure – mainly science fiction, but other genres too along with true-life stories of inspiration. Out of Adventure Books of Seattle came Escape Velocity: the magazine of science fact and fiction. Co-editors Robert Blevins in the USA, and Geoff Nelder in Britain were privileged to read thousands of stories and articles from amateurs and professional writers. Their model of production was unique in that instead of printing thousands of copies and sending them to wholesalers for distribution, the relatively new Print on Demand method was employed through It allowed readers to select either an e-book, at the price of a coffee, or a beautiful print version at the price of a roadside lunch. Sadly, in spite of ferociously brilliant reviews, insufficient copies were purchased to make the venture worth the considerable effort involved.

Thousands of the e-books have been downloaded, when they are offered free – and still are from the website of Adventure Books of Seattle. It seems that the world isn’t quite ready for the necessary culture shift for the paradigm of purchasing magazines via the web. People enjoy selecting and buying magazines from stores, or by mail subscription, and are reluctant to try a different approach. Nevertheless, the four issues gave flight to over 50 writers, a debut publishing experience for many. It also saw book reviews, puzzles, marvellous illustrations, cartoons, poetry from Magdalena Ball, interviews with literary agents, actors and others in the science fiction business. It’s been a blast, as they say.

The ending is not sudden. There are enough accepted stories in the files of the editors to fill an anthology – with the Escape Velocity name. Those writers are being offered a place in that anthology along with payment, as they would have had in Escape Velocity.

Apart from the online nature of purchasing Escape Velocity up until now, the magazine had a good reception at conventions in both the US and UK, and will be missed by those friends who had bought their copies annually.  Besides the effort and financial resources taken up by the magazine by the publisher and editors, their time has recently been occupied by other ventures. In particular the intriguing true life story of D.B. Cooper, who’d daringly leapt from an airplane in the 1970s with his skyjacked loot, never to be caught. Robert Blevins and P.I. Skipp Porteous have collaborated on a project to reveal the identity of the daredevil robber, and after many interviews and going over the files, have come up with not only convincing evidence of D.B. Cooper’s real identity, but a compelling adventurous read with Into the Blast.

Escape Velocity may be grounded for the foreseeable future but the editors and others involved with the magazine would like to give a heartfelt thanks to the contributors and many well-wishers, who had encouraged them along the way. 


Adventure Books of Seattle:

Into the Blast: The True Story of D.B. Cooper

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